Friday, November 30, 2007

"Light tomorrow with today."
— Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861)


I long to accomplish a great and noble task,

but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks

as if they were great and noble.

--Helen Keller

Sunday, November 25, 2007


Rain come down to wash away sorrow

This whole town is covered in gray
God let it rain my nights to tomorrow
Someone here in tribulation

Say does it matter

Ultima Thule - homelessness, loneliness, and despair in a sea of humanity.

It has stopped raining today (This posting began on Sunday November 25, 2007.). Yeah, it was raw and rainy. Now it is just raw. Before the rain came, it had been bitter cold at night for 3 days, with strong winds. When the weather is cold raw, rainy, my consciousness is automatically drawn to the men, women, and children, who are homeless on the streets.

You see, I have found that if one is still present "consciously" in an embodied state of homelessness, that one "fairs" better when the weather is nicer, in the hell called homelessness.

Ultima Thule - New Orleans

In one city out of hundreds in this nation, on this planet - New Orleans - our brothers and sisters and their children who are homeless, are staying in shelters for the night, sleeping under the highways or sleeping on the street by the railroad tracks, their backs against the walls, with card board to protect them from the rain. Some of our homeless brothers and sisters will find rest in abandoned, rat infested, moldy houses made even more dangerous if someone with malice aforethought, has watched them go in alone, especially if they are women. Then there are the brothers and sisters who are staying in a place called "tent city" by city hall in New Orleans.

If you want to read up on "tent city" and homelessness in New Orleans:

Katrina Homeless Make Tent City Of Despair

Tents Time for the Homeless?

Homeless community shrinks when 88 are given places to live

On the Bottle, Off the Streets, Halfway There (New York Times)

Relative 'hell'...

As human beings there are three very basic bodily functions that must occur daily in order for the human body to survive.

1. Sleep
2. Defecate and urinate
3. Eat

When one is homeless the first and second of the above list, are the most difficult to surmount daily. Surmount is an accurate work to use unless you have found a safe and secure place in which you can take care of these needs.

When it comes to eliminating bodily waste, you really can't conceive of how important this is until you have no home of your own. Being homeless does not mean you stop being human with very human needs, the homeless amongst us crave some level of routine and safety, to sleep most especially.

Finding somewhere to "be".

For as many humans beings there are, there are reasons for homelessness. There are people who prefer to live on the streets. Most times it is because they have to in order to survive in the best way they know how to survive. Ultimately, society expects that each of us take care of ourselves or society will determine how you will be taken care of.

Even the homeless seek a place to call their own. A street corner, a bench, a place in the woods at night, beside a wall on a desolate street, an abandoned house... To rest and have the illusion of safety for a few hours.

When you are homeless, there are hours of relentless "nothingness" - "emptiness" - "loneliness" and "presentness" to the hell you are living in - unless drugs and alcohol are a part of your homeless experience.

There is a certain homeless man I have in my mind's eye right now. Sometimes he is out in his favorite spot speaking with beings I cannot perceive. Sometimes he is sitting quietly in this very public space and looks out of it and very tired. Then sometimes, he is able to look me in the eye and in those brief moments we "see" each other. One day I offered him food from my car window, a snack I was eating, I offered to share it with him as he was looking at me after I nodded hello to him, as I was sitting at the intersection. With an enormous smile and light in his eyes he thanked me and said no, and then he blessed me.

I have never been to India but I have seen film footage and read that their homeless men, especially those who choose to do so for spiritual purposes are treated with reverence. In this country to be homeless is to be treated as dangerous and to be chased away from neighborhoods.

Compassion on your terms for the homeless and poor.

You don't have to do alot to help someone who is homeless. Sometimes just acknowledging their presence is one way to help that individual in the moment.

There are many who might disagree, yet I always try to carry one dollar bills and change on me (when I have money), to give to anyone I might encounter who may ask. I have said no on occasion, but it is rare. I ask myself always, "who am I to judge this person's life for the sake of a dollar or a few dollars?" Too often I have met people who don't have enough change to get on the bus or to eat or to get a pack of smokes. I don't smoke, I know it will kill you, so will homelessness, I have learned in the moment, to learn to be present to what the individual who has asked me for help needs, to get through the next thousand moments. Sometimes people will use the money I give them for alcohol, I sometimes wonder will this be their last drink? Will my act of kindness be one of many random acts that perhaps brought about a moment in time for them when they hit their bottom? Who knows, I would rather be on the side of taking such a risk.

I understand what it is like at night for the homeless and finding a "safe" place to sleep. I remember sleeping on what I thought was abandoned property and having someone come to do me harm "because" I was homeless and vulnerable to their malice. I know what it is like to be shamed and humiliated by others for being homeless. I know what it is like for people to look out the windows and decide whether to call the police on you for being homeless. I know what it is like to feel constantly exposed and unsafe. I know what it is like not to have your own toilet and wonder what convienence store or fast food chain wouldn't stop you from using their bathroom. I know what hunger from poverty is like. I know what it is like to have to choose between gas to get the car moving or food. I know what it is like to spend hours suffering and to want to do anything I could to help my brain and body to escape the relentlessness of the living hell called homelessness.

These and thousands of other reasons gleaned through personal experience with homelessness and poverty inform my heart and mind to those who continue to suffer.

So if you are in New Orleans, and you want to help, in real-time, think about stopping by "tent city" by city hall. Bring packs of warm socks with you, inexpensive gloves, scarves, knit caps or something called HotHands which you can find in the camping section of Walmart. When someone is panhandling and it is raining, offer them your umbrella and some food if you don't want to give money.

Now that the weather is getting colder: the people down in "tent city" in the park by city hall, might appreciate your dropping by with:

If you and some friends feel up to the task - bring contractor bags (and plastic gloves) and just pick up the trash, be mindful about picking up clothes on the ground. You can create a pile to put stray clothing.

As you move around "tent city" make sure you say hello to those who are watching you and if people approach let them know that you wanted to come down and lend a hand. Because in the end, that is the most precious gift that we can bring to each other..."Seeing each other". Honouring the humanity within each of us no matter the circumstances we find each other in. I find it is best to go in the late afternoon around 4-4:30 before it gets dark. If you decide on picking up trash - I would go earlier in the day. Bring plastic gloves! And be prepared to deal with strong smells.

On giving person to person:

If your not comfortable with strangers or street smart, I would counsel you to be deliberate in how you choose to help.

My experiences when going to tent city: I keep in mind that when walk in to tent city within a few moments I will probably find that I am approached by the unofficial "protectors" of the area.

It seems that these individuals have taken on the task of watching over the area and each other in the park area. I have found that if I am present and aware of visible clues, these individuals will make themselves known, even ask if they can help. I try to always be mindful that this is where they live, they know who is a stranger and who is not. Sometimes no one will approach me and I move beyond my comfort zone and just walk around, making eye contact with whomever I meet. I walk around the perimeter first and then close to the tents, keeping a respectful distance remembering as the tent I am approaching is someones "home", I will usually go to areas where people are sitting outside their tents or sitting in a group.

I have consistently found each time I take a moment to help someone who is homeless, that many people are so grateful to be "seen" and remembered in their plight. There are a few angry personalities, as there are in any grouping settings. When I go into "tent city" I see acts of kindness which touch me deeply, I have seen people who are cold give away the Hot Hands I give to them to someone else who is even colder. I have seen the same occur with socks, someone came and asked me for a pair of socks and later I saw him giving them to someone else who was deeper into tent city, someone I might not have reached.

The people who live on the street "homeless" help me to remember my humanity. These are my brothers and sisters and my 'eye' is always aware of them when I am out driving or walking. Those who are homeless are living in very challenging circumstances at best. The smell alone of the urine is so overpowering and I wonder that they are not given the dignity of port-o-potties as this "tent city" was, according to stories I have read, set up by the police.

Someone asked me how to "help" someone who is homeless without being condescending - to even be thinking in this way tells me that this person strives to "be" compassionate.

What I appreciated when I was homeless is what every human appreciates - being looked in the eye with dignity and a smile or with compassion, not pity. Sometimes you will meet people with serious mental illnesses who cannot make eye contact, you will"know them" when you see them. Often they will shy away from you.

When approaching someone who is homeless I always ask if either "they mind if I approach", or if I have something to share I might say as I am walking up to a group or an individual, "I have some socks (etc.) and was wondering if you could use some warm socks". I might, depending upon the individual and what I perceive to be their ability to socialize, say more or just walk away, as for some homeless folks, that is all the social contact that they want.

You will meet in 'tent city', some people who are uncommonly generous and others who seem hoardingly selfish, others who are just broken and discarded by our society. The goal as a brother or sister who seeks to love without judging - is to check your thoughts and inner judgements around any perceived behaviours. It is hard to understand with compassion what it is like to be homeless without being homeless and what happens to some behaviorally in such situations.

When approaching areas where people have no tents and only a mattress or are sleeping under a blanket (these individuals are so much more exposed) I stay a few feet away out of respect of their space and ask them (if they are making eye contact with me) if they would like what I are offering or if they would find the item helpful. Sometimes, these individuals do not want what you offer, or perhaps they unable to trust you to come over and take what you are offering. Whatever the reason I try to remember the person I am speaking with lives in "exposed" conditions all the time. These brothers and sisters have no privacy, sense of safety, or security.

The most profound lessons I learned in my years of suffering in Ultima Thule, is the power of eye contact, generosity, and unconditional love.


Friday, November 23, 2007



Not without struggle will the new America come into being,
But with the knowledge of a virtue once lost to be regained,
And with the knowledge of a hope once dashed
upon the shores of self-seeking,
Now reaffirmed as a promise that belongs to all.

This America will rise on the shoulders of honor
and be uplifted by a heart that longs to serve
the helpless, the downtrodden, the needy.
It will not rise on the shoulders of the mighty,
but on the shoulders of the kind and the generous –
on the strength of those who are fearless in their desire to love.

The new Republic of America shall give to all what belongs to all,
The right to live freely, to breathe purely, to belong to the earth
as the earth belongs to all creatures,
To share in the earth's bounty in a feast that excludes no one,
in which all who are hungry may be fed.

This America will no longer tolerate the haughty and the proud,
Those who seek stature through gaining power over others
or through the dissembling that makes one look better
that another may look worse.

Tolerance will be a foundation in this new America,
But more than tolerance will be needed
by those who seek to represent the people.
For these, in particular, will need to be humble before God and man.
They will need to be devoted to ideals that will be of benefit to all -
that will share with all the abundance of an abundant land.

Those who will lead America will not act in order to save face,
But will already possess a face that speaks the truth
and that seeks to follow it.
In all things, the new America shall hold itself to a standard of honor
that refuses to allow a pandering to self-interest
in order that some may have more, while others have less.
It will, in upholding this standard, recognize that there is no self-interest
that does not include the interest of all,
And there is no accomplishment that does not satisfy
what the hearts of all men long for.

This standard, held high, shall bar none, shall exclude no one,
And, holding itself accountable to a higher measure of justice and mercy,
shall embrace all as one people,
manifested as many,
humble before God.

Monday, November 19, 2007


"Where there is discord may we bring harmony.
Where there is error, may we bring truth.
Where there is doubt, may we bring faith.
Where there is despair, may we bring hope."


There are many here among us

Who feel that life is but a joke

But you and I we’ve been through that

And this is not our fate

So let us not talk falsely now

The hours getting late…

--Jimi Hendrix
Along the Watchtower

Prayers for the suffering: our Bangledeshi brothers and sisters.

Bangladesh storm toll over 3,000
Bangladesh cyclone death toll could hit 15,000



Sunday, November 18, 2007


Men pass away, but their deeds abide.
-- Augustin-Louis Cauchy

Reverend Louis Harrell

Pierre's Living Witness is a Pentecostal congregation on Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard. Founded in 1981 by Elder Louis Harrell, the church struggled in its early years in a desolate neighborhood.

"We'd attend church there, and often we'd come out and find our batteries missing and our cars had been vandalized," he said. Streetwalkers occasionally propositioned church members; drug dealers plied their trade in plain view.

"Pastor Harrell really got angry with the devil and said we've got to do something about it," Pierre said.

First they brought their evangelizing to the street. "Pretty soon, like roaches do when you turn on the light, they began to scurry," he said.

Then the church began organizing programs for the neighborhood, starting with a simple emergency food pantry.

Soon enough, Living Witness founded a residential drug rehabilitation program for men called the Nehemiah Restoration Center.

Public money pays for clinical counselors and case managers, Pierre said. At the same time, the thrust of the program is explicitly Christian.

If Alcoholics Anonymous has its 12-step program that urges alcoholics to acknowledge their helplessness to an unnamed higher power, however they understand it, Living Witness' Christ-centered program is based on 15 biblical principles, Pierre said.

The program does not work for everyone; indeed, some drop out repeatedly and seek re-entry, Pierre said.

When successful, though, "at the end of the program, you don't just have somebody who's off of drugs: You have somebody who's been introduced to Christ.

"So they're a new creature in Christ. That's our treatment modality."

Reverend Avery Alexander
Rev. Avery Caesar Alexander

June 29, 1910 - March 5, 1999
Rev. Avery C. Alexander was an important leader in the struggle for civil rights for black Louisianians. He was born Avery Caesar Alexander on June 29, 1910 in Terrebone Parish, LA. By 1927, seven years after his father's death, the family relocated to New Orleans. He gained his high school diploma in 1939 from Gilbert Academy where he had taken night classes. He studied at several universities and graduated from Union Baptist Theological Seminary. He was ordained into the ministry in 1944.

A member of the NAACP, Rev. Alexander traveled statewide participating in voter registration drives in the years before the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed. In New Orleans, he helped to organize several boycotts against white businesses to hire blacks for jobs above the "broom and mop" level. He also led a successful boycott against New Orleans Public Service, Inc. to hire the first black bus drivers.

Rev. Alexander participated in marches with the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., including the march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama and the first and second marches on Washington. He also was involved in sit-ins to integrate lunch counters all over New Orleans. In one incident, during a sit-in being held at the eating facilities at City Hall, he was arrested and dragged by the heels up the steps from the basement of that building. Films of that event became the story of the day nationwide.

In 1975, Rev. Alexander was elected to the Louisiana House of Representatives (Democrat, District 93) holding that office until his death. During his life he was also a real estate broker, insurance agent and longshoreman, becoming the manager of the longshoreman's welfare system from 1958-1962. In 1990, he established the Church of All People, a non-denominational ministry.

He continued his fight for civil rights until his death at the age of 89 on March 5, 1999.

Professor Longhair

Longhair's career in music began in the 1930s, dancing for tips. He learned guitar and piano and began to take music seriously when he found he could get out of work by playing piano for his fellow members of the Civilian Conservation Corps. He also worked as a boxer, cook, and professional card player.

In the late 1940s, he sat in on piano at the Caledonia Club while Dave Bartholomew's band was taking a break. He was an immediate hit and Bartholomew, later famous as Fats Domino's bandleader and collaborator, was fired. The band all had long hair and were dubbed Professor Longhair and the Four Hairs.

He began recording the following year. His signature song, "Mardi Gras in New Orleans" (still the theme song of New Orleans Mardi Gras) was recorded in 1949...

His career greatly slowed down in the 1960s, with "Big Chief" his biggest hit. He returned to card playing and even worked as a janitor in a record store until located by Allison Miner, Parker Dinkins and Quint Davis, who rehabilitated him and prepared him for a performance at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. The 1971 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival marked a comeback, and he began making a series of critically acclaimed albums throughout the 1970s.

He was the headliner at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1973, and in 1975, Paul McCartney flew him to play a private party on the Queen Mary.

He died of a heart attack in 1980, and was subsequently inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The famed New Orleans night spot, Tipitina's, is named after one of his songs. Albert Goldman recorded Longhair at Tipitina's in 1978.

Mahalia Jackson

October 26, 1911-January 27, 1972

Mahalia Jackson was one of America's greatest gospel singers. She was born in New Orleans on October 26, 1911 to Charity Clark, a laundress and maid, and Johnny Jackson, a Baptist preacher, barber and longshoreman. She attended McDonogh School No. 24 until the eighth grade.

Influenced by the music of the Sanctified Church she began singing at the young age of four in the children's choir of Plymouth Rock Baptist Church.

In 1927, Mahalia migrated to Chicago and while working as a maid, laundress and date packer studied beauty culture at Madam C. J. Walker's and Scott Institute of Beauty Culture. She opened a beauty shop after this training. When the director of the choir at Greater Salem Baptist Church in Chicago heard her sing she became the choir's first soloist. Her beautiful voice made her popular.

During the 1930s, she toured the "storefront church circuit" singing to congregations. Jackson bridged the gap between the sacred and the secular in her performances, often using scriptures to justify her use of hand clapping and stomping while singing.

The next two decades found Mahalia recording songs and touring the United States and Europe. She became closely associated with the civil rights movement during the 1960s often singing at benefits for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the boycotters and student sit-ins.

Jackson died of heart failure at the age of sixty in Chicago. She was honored with funerals in Chicago and New Orleans and is buried in Providence Memorial Park in Metairie.

Reverend Abraham Lincoln "A. L." Davis

November 2, 1914-June 25, 1978
Abraham Lincoln Davis was a founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and the first African American city councilman in New Orleans. He was born in Bayou Goula, Louisiana and moved to New Orleans in 1930 to live with a sister and attend high school. Reverend Davis graduated from McDonogh 35 High School, received his B. A. degree from Leland College and his theological degree from Union Baptist Theological Seminary. He became the pastor of New Zion Baptist Church in 1935 where he became known as the Rev. A. L. Davis. He served as pastor of New Zion for forty-three years.

In 1957, Rev. Davis and a group of civil rights activists met at New Zion to organize the SCLC. The group chose as its first president Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rev. Davis became its first vice president. In 1975, he was elected to the City Council. Rev. A. L. Davis died at the age of 63 of pancreatic cancer and is buried in Bayou Goula.

Gertrude Geddes Willis

March 18, 1880-February 20, 1970

Mrs. Gertrude Pocte Geddes-Willis was one of the first American female funeral directors in New Orleans. In 1940, Mrs. Willis was the founder and president of two corporations, Gertrude Geddes Willis Life Insurance Company and Gertrude Geddes Willis Funeral Home. Mrs. Geddes-Willis was a lifetime member of the NAACP and the YWCA and a member of several benevolent societies and professional organizations. She was also active in the Ladies Auxillary Council of the Knights of Peter Claver.

One of her special interests was youth development. Throughout her career her entrepreneurship gained the respect of both local and national business leaders.

Mrs. Willis died on February 20, 1970. She is buried in St. Louis Cemetery No. 3.

Marion J. Porter

A native of Donaldsonville, La., Porter grew up in New Orleans and attended Straight College. He did photographic work for the Louisiana Weekly and for Black Data Weekly and also served as the local photographer for such national publications as Ebony, Jet, and Black Enterprise. He also owned Porter's Photo News. Among his subjects over the years were celebrities such as President John F. Kennedy, Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., Thurgood Marshall, Halie Selassie, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Jackie Robinson, Joe Louis, and Jesse Owens. His work documents the full range of African American activity in the Crescent City, from social occasions and sporting events to political rallies and civil rights protests.

Porter was a member of a number of local organizations, including the NAACP, the Urban League, and the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club. He was a veteran of World War II, having seen action at the Battle of the Bulge under the command of General George Patton. Marion Porter died of cancer in New Orleans on November 10, 1983 at the age of 74.

In 1995 Porter's widow, Charlene Richard, entrusted local photographer Eric Waters with the surviving inventory of his negatives and photos. Waters, through Ebon Images, Inc., had plans to publish a book of Porter's work, to create a traveling exhibit of his photographs, and to establish the Marion Porter Photography Workshop to support and encourage the development of young black photographers. Eric Waters and Ebon Images, Inc., however, are no longer involved with the Porter photographs.

Waters, in a grant proposal to the city of New Orleans, described the Porter photographs as
... an essential testimony to the history of Black people and Black life in New Orleans for the period 1930-1980. Porter was blessed with an eye that captured not only the images of a photograph but also the spirit and message of the moment. He was a people person, possessed of a wealth of knowledge and contacts who had a generous commitment to Black people. He was an authentic man with no pretense and a man of strong commitment. He touched many people and captured telling moments in their lives on film. The value of his body of work in documenting a half century of Black life in New Orleans is beyond estimate.

Until the great mass of the people shall be filled with the sense of responsibility for each other's welfare, social justice can never be attained.

--Helen Keller

Friday, November 16, 2007

Thursday, November 15, 2007


Defense Secretary Gates:
$50 Billion to fund war effort isn't enough.

“We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another.”
— Jonathan Swift (1667-1745)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


I began reading the Shock doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, by by Naomi Klein today. I am a speed reader and I read everything I could related to New Orleans and Katrina. I am now rereading the book again to absorb the whole "world" picture.

"At last! Thank you Naomi.

Now my mind has a way to "hold" and intellectually "understand" the underlying causes of the outrages of my heart and my spirit, at what I am witnessing in Post Katrina New Orleans.

Until I read the chapters related to disaster recovery which related to the 'effort' being put forth in the rebuilding of New Orleans, I had no way to "intellectually" understand what my camera, my eyes, and my heart were witnessing. Lately, I had begun to question the validity of some of my postings, believing myself to be "over-reacting" and " perhaps I was seeing problems where maybe there really weren't any - maybe, I was over dramatizing", I thought, irrationally!

I questioned myself because of the emotionality - the heightened degree of anger I was feeling and the ongoing distress in my heart at the suffering I was taking in through my eyes and heart in the streets of New Orleans. I thought something was wrong with me because of my anger - not understanding that my anger was a sign - an indicator - that something was wrong with what I am seeing!

I have been perceiving since I have been in New Orleans, and writing from the earliest posts, that I felt 1. New Orleans seems to be a "petri dish" and a great experiment is occurring here, 2. I believe that racial cleansing is occurring - blatantly - under the guise of free market capitalism. A system by which "the market" not the community, gets to decide or lobby heavily for, which areas get the funding, schools, stores, food markets, etc. and that 3. some sort of social engineering is occurring.

In reading the chapters relating to "disaster capitalism" that Naomi Klein has brilliantly written in her book Shock doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, - I am beginning to mentally comprehend the underlying forces (not for the "greater" good, by any means in my opinion) of what I perceive to be the injustices I see daily. Such as the difference between getting "private security" policing your streets and overstretched off duty New Orleans police officers guarding your grocery store (Whole Foods) or the Military Police in HumVee's cruising your streets. Or which schools get needed public funding private schools or public schools which look like military detention centers or just remain boarded up.

I know a lot of people have said to me "well we are so glad the Military and the private police are here to help." These well meaning statements would really bother me and I could not "understand" why "I" was being so unreasonable. Now I understand. A aspect of my conscious moral self, was being constantly exposed to, and documenting, a phenomenon that Naomi has accurately described as "Disaster Capitalism", which I feel is ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY, MORALLY, AND CONSTITUTIONALLY WRONG - WRONG - WRONG.

The "cure"? You and I. Volunteering. Being vigilant against the complacency and false sense of security and instant gratification that capitalism purchases for you.

There is much more on this subject - which I guess has always been the premise at some level, of this blog. In this moment, as I write, I feel the sense of internal relativity and meaningfulness that comes with the discovery of learning something so vital and amazing that every aspect of you "knew" at some level, except for your mind. That "light-bulb" going off in your brain moment. As a result, many of my upcoming blog entries are going to become my version of "show" and "tell" through photo's and relevant quotes from Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism.

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Prosperity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

--Preamble to the Constitution of the United States of America

The Shock Doctrine Short Film - Shock Doctrine


All quotes used in the posting are from:
Shock doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism Naomi Klein

"We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans.
We couldn't do it, but God did"

--Richard Baker
(Louisiana 6th District - Republican Congressman)

The "closed" Lafitte Public Housing which is not far from the French Quarter. The neighborhood surrounding it has been allowed to fall into disrepair and public despair.

"...In February of 2007, groups of residents who had lived in public housing projects that the Bush Administration was planning to demolish began "reinvading" their old homes and taking up residence."

Out of all the public housing the Lafitte public housing is kept clean and orderly and basically empty, whilst people live in FEMA trailers across the street.

"...volunteers helped clean out apartments and raised money to buy generators and solar panels. "my home is my castle, and I am taking it back," announced Gloria Williams, a resident of the housing project C. J. Peete.

C.J. Peete Public Housing

The reinvasion turned into a block party complete with a New Orleans brass band. There was much to celebrate: at least for now, this one community had escaped the great cultural bulldozer that calls itself reconstruction."

A note from your planetary sister: C.J. Peete might have survived the "cultural bulldozer" but not the seemingly "allowing" of the deterioration of the property, not cutting grass, the destruction of buildings, school materials left on the side walk. (see pictures of schools slide with globe and old computers left unattended and on sidewalk area ). Whereas at the Lafitte housing project which is also primarily empty, the grass is tended to and kept orderly.

Also, when visiting the Congressman Baker's website, I was struck at first how what the Congressman is up to is presented. It is only when you read the finer print of the legislature he is a part of that you can get a better sense of what the Congressman is really standing for. Hey - don't take my word for it - take the time and decide for yourself.



"Most of New Orleans schools are in ruins, as are the homes of the children who have attended them. The children are now scattered all over the country. This is a tragedy. It is also an opportunity to radically reform the educational system."

- Milton Friedman, The Promise of Vouchers, The Wall Street Journal, December 2005.

"Friedman's radical idea was that instead of spending a portion of the billions of dollars on reconstruction money rebuilding and improving New Orleans existing public school system, the government should provide families with vouchers, which they could spend at private institutions, many run at a profit, that would be subsidized by the state."

--The Promise of Vouchers, The Wall Street Journal

"A network of right-wing think tanks seized on Friedman's proposal and descended on the city after the storm. The administration for G. W. Bush backed up their plans with tens of millions of dollars to convert New Orleans schools into "charter" schools, publicly funded institutions run by private entities according to their own rules."

"Charter schools are deeply polarizing in the united States, and nowhere more than New Orleans, where they are seen by many African-American parents as a way of reversing the gains of the civil rights movement, which guaranteed all children the same standard of education."

--Shock doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism

"...Public school teachers, meanwhile, watching money allocated for the victims of the flood being diverted to erase a public system and replace it with a private one, were calling Freidman's plan "an educational land grab".

--Educational Land Grabs, Rethinking Schools, Fall 2006

A planetary note: I have changed the time option of these 4 posts so that they read consecutively.

All quotes used in the posting are sourced from:
Shock doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism by Naomi Klein

Related articles:
Children Without Health Insurance Lose Out on Learning at School



Monday, November 12, 2007


This morning 4 trim, well groomed women, casually rode their horses down this path, laughing and exchanging stories. Whilst men played rounds of golf on the well manicured golf courses, and nannies and mothers walked their charges around the serene grounds of Audubon Park.

In the nearby neighborhood, lawns were being cut, trim on houses being repainted, vehicles are being washed and waxed by men who will come to your home to save you time. Trickle down economics.

20 minutes away in the same city...

Houses remain ungutted, Numerous schools are closed. There doesn't even seem to be "enough money" to help the children. In our new Nation of the Free - "freedom" seems to be based on the best opportunities money can buy. The "panorezation" of the United States of America. No worries, it will be coming to your town soon.

Later in the afternoon on this same day, I rode my bicycle over to the supermarket - Whole Paycheck (aka Whole Foods) to buy some organic produce. I overheard the man in line in front of me in the express checkout say to the cashier, "What's the most expensive amount anyone has ever spent on one bag of groceries? " The cashier responded "I don't know, about $100." The man in front of me laughs and says (guilelessly), "I guess I have hit my all time high for one bag of groceries." (6 items - total $102.54) I had, had to say something, I could not just keep it in, I interrupted the conversation, "Now that is the difference between being Uptown at Whole Foods Market and the 9th Ward. "

Imagine how far that $100 would have gone if spent by a family living in the 9th Ward, Chalmette, Algiers. Do I begrudge anyone what they want, when they want it, it they have the money to pay for it?


I do get angry sometimes when I see the few, consume so much, whilst the many, have so little.

I have been practicing a mindfulness meditation ever since:

You will not be punished for your anger, you will be punished by your anger.

Too many incongruous juxtapositions in one day.

Seeking Peace, your Planetary Sister.

Forbes Billionaires Listing 2007

Real Wealth Economy The "Caring Value System"

Saturday, November 10, 2007


First, it is ridiculed.
Second, it is violently opposed.
Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.

--Arthur Schopenhauer (1788 - 1860)


When people are determined, they can overcome fate;
when the will is unified, it can mobilize energy.
Enlightened people do not even let nature put them in a set mold.
--Huanchu Daoren

What you are viewing is a phenomenon I have been encountering recently. Houses collapsing amongst new structures being built. People living in homes amongst the stench and health dangering effects of mold from ungutted houses. Those who are and were able to, have gutted their houses. Sometimes, the long delays involved with waiting for help have left the gutted shell to rot and fall. Any hope now gone of saving their home.

The house on the left is ungutted and the smell of the mold, even from the street gives me a headache as I photograph. The brick structure on the right is the result of a neighbor building their own house, which many people in the 9th Ward are left to do with the help of relatives and friends and when they are available, volunteers. These neighbors come after work and on the weekends after a long week at work to rebuild their homes. Working next to houses, in this case, which could make them very ill.

These 2 photo's above speak so much to the spirit of many of the people of the 9th Ward. Amongst the ruins, out of the ashes rises hope. Could you do it? Could you build with the hope and fortitude necessary in such conditions, without complaining endlessly about your neighbors house collapsing next to you? The people in this area know, they must take care of their own destiny, that there may never be any help coming for them. And so they do what they need to do.

The neighbors on the left, one of the first households to rebuild and come back on this street - Law Street, must live amongst the stench of the mold and the rotting houses across the street and next door. Oddly, my experience has been when I speak with community members who have done and are doing just what these neighbors have - it is I who is angry that they are left amongst such living conditions when they are doing everything they can to rebuild their homes and communities.

"Why," some would ask "would people choose to live this way?"

In my opinion, these are extraordinary human beings who are able to "Dream the Impossible Dream."

Jah Bless.